Adero Riser Cobb is no stranger to the halls of Keystone Community Services, though as their new CEO/President, her responsibilities might look a little different. She has been on staff with Keystone since 2019, first as Director of Human Resources and Operations and then as the Chief Operations Officer. Before that, she served on the Keystone Board of Directors for two-and-a-half years.
But her time with Keystone goes even further back than that.
“I participated in Youth Express,” she said, one of Keyston’s earliest job referral programs for youth. She said, in those early days, the referrals were things like cutting grass and babysitting.
Not only that, but it has been a family affair for Riser Cobb, who said that her children also participated in Keystone programming for over 10 years, eventually working within the organization.
“My son was part of camps and went through the apprenticeship program at Express Bike,” Riser Cobb said. “My daughter worked there as an office manager.”
It was through that relationship with her daughter that Mary McKeown, then President and CEO of Keystone, thought to bring Riser Cobb back into the fold.
“Mary McKeown saw me in a magazine and knew my daughter, and she reached out to me to join the Board,” she said.
Riser Cobb, who has three degrees from Concordia University, said she joined the board as a way to give back to something she was already invested in. After that, she said she steadily progressed, from Board Member to HR and Operations Director, to COO and finally to CEO.
In her new role, Riser Cobb is a long way from babysitting and cutting grass. In fact, one of her first responsibilities is a major construction project.
The organization has broken ground on a new Community Food Center on University Avenue to better serve their clients. Riser Cobb said, when completed in early 2024, they will be able to serve over 4,500 households each month.
Additionally, the building will have a community room, provide services for basic needs and provide the organization with some additional efficiencies and safety.
“We had catalytic converters stolen from our food mobiles,” said Riser Cobb. “Now they will be garaged in the new building.”
She said that, in addition to their growth, Keystone will continue to focus on the services they provide to the community at the West 7th Rec Center.
“How do we engage everyone? Young people, seniors, families, participants. Especially coming out of COVID,” Riser Cobb said. “How do we bring people back to the building?”
Their plans include continuing to provide the programming they have for years while adding new elements, like the upcoming free sing-along for people 55-and-over. They also include exploring hosting an annual Keys Fest, which they held for the first time this summer at the community center and Riser Cobb said the community loved.
“I can see that being an annual thing,” she said.
Riser Cobb, who is the 7th President of Keystone, and the first President of Color, said that she is grateful to continue to be part of an organization that she cares so deeply about.
“I am here for the community. I am in my purpose being here,” she said. “I’ll continue to grow and be in the community. Every day I’m in here and giving my all. Every single day.”
Read more about the work Keystone is doing in the community at keystoneservices.org/2023-keystone-annual-report.
Correction: The original version of this story said Keystone served over 2,000 people per month, rather than 4,500 families.